Show NCSYers that Rosh Hashana is about an opportunity to make small changes in our lives that make us better people - not just a day of punishments and fear. Once a year, we have a more-special-than-usual opportunity to make these small changes: we have the shofar.
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To show NCSYers that Rosh Hashana is not supposed to be about punishments and fear, but that it is about an opportunity to make small changes in our lives that make us better people. Once a year we have a more-special-than-usual opportunity to make these small changes: we have the shofar.
Tell NCSYers to get into pairs. Tell them that you will ask them a couple of questions and that you will call on people to share their partner's answers. This forces good conversation with the kids. Give 30-60 seconds for them to speak it out in their pairs. Then call on the kids who are usually the most disengaged to share their partner’s answers. Here are the questions:
- What do you think of when you here your mom/school/rabbi say, “It’s Rosh Hashana!” Could be good or bad. This is just to get them thinking about Rosh Hashana. Carry the conversation based on their answers for a few minutes.
- What do you think about when you hear the shofar? When they are sharing their partner’s turns, this could turn into a good conversation. Let it go for as long as you see fit.
Share with them that there are different kinds of commandments, some based on the Torah verses and some based on rabbi’s laws. The mitzvah of shofar is a mitzvah from the Torah. [Show them the source on the left with the English translation.] That means that G-D told the Jewish people that once a year, on the first day of the new Jewish year, we have an obligation to hear the shofar being sounded. What was it that He wanted from us? You can say, “A lot of you shared some nice answers.”
The Rambam gives us an answer that helps us to understand. I only copied part of the Rambam and paraphrased it, but see sources on the right of the page. Read English and Hebrew. The whole point of Torah is for people to make themselves a little bit better than we were yesterday. Not to become someone who they are not, but to become a more sophisticated, developed version of themselves.
And remember, if you are waiting for someone to make those changes for you, though, that doesn’t happen. See source on bottom right in English and Hebrew. Sometimes it is hard to grow. But it always going to be you who make the changes.
Let’s make Rosh HaShana the time of year that we make ourselves even better, as a person and as a Jew. Etc…